Students 16-year-old Michelle Kim from Saint Andrews Regional High School and 17-year-old Leah Kelley

Students 16-year-old Michelle Kim from Saint Andrews Regional High School and 17-year-old Leah Kelley

Local student makes mark on cancer research

leah Kelley may have a future in medicine

Leah Kelley explains her summer job with such technical precision that it’s easy to forget she is just 17-years-old.

The East Sooke resident has been spending July and August conducting supervised cancer research inside the microbiology lab at the B.C. Cancer Agency’s Deeley Research Centre near Royal Jubilee Hospital in Victoria.

“It’s incredible,” said Kelley, who is going into Grade 12 at Edward Milne Community School. “It’s like going to another country where they speak a different language. You just have to pick it up.”

She is one of four students selected to participate in the competitive high school summer internship research program, which continues until Aug. 26.

Joining her in the labs are Emma Thomson from Oak Bay High, Laticia Davies from Victoria High and Michelle Kim from St. Andrews Regional High in Saanich. Their participation marks the first time four female students have been chosen to work in the labs together.

Since the program began in 2004, four students, who are either 16 years old or in Grade 11 at the time of their application, are selected each year to conduct cancer research inside the centre’s high-tech labs. They must pass exams at the end of the program to receive $3,000 bursaries.

The students provide invaluable help to researchers, who are studying how the immune system responds to cancer, as well as gain unique insight into a potential career path, said lab co-ordinator Siao Yong, a former researcher who mentored students.

“I would say this is the best science class (for them) because you gain experience in the lab and you’re learning beyond what you’re doing in the (high school) classroom,” said Yong. “Some of the material is for first- and second-year university students.”

Past interns have had work published in research journals, while others have gone on to medical school and one is now a Rhodes Scholar, she said, adding that researchers also appreciate the youthful perspective the interns bring with them.

“It’s refreshing to have that enthusiasm.” Yong said.

Every morning, Monday to Friday, the students arrive and don crisp white lab coats before joining in the centre’s efforts to help develop treatments for different types of cancer.

It’s encouraging that researchers, who are playing such an important role, put so much faith in young people, such as herself, said Kelley, who aspires to become an oncology doctor.

“It’s incredible that they’ve given us that opportunity,” she said, adding that she appreciates being part of a team that is contributing to the fight against cancer.

“It gives you hope there will be a cure or multiple cures,” Kelley said.

 

Did you know?

 

Two students, who are either 16 or in Grade 11 at any secondary school on Vancouver Island, may be nominated for the internship program before March 1 every year.

For details, contact your school’s science department or for an application, please visit www.bccrc.ca/dept/drc/hsp.

Just Posted

sig
MAYOR’S MESSAGE: A time of sorrow and celebration

Sooke is proudly a Compassionate City, writes Maja Tait

HMCS Corner Brook returned to Victoria’s waters for the first time since 2015 on June 10. (Courtesy of the Royal Canadian Navy)
WATCH: Navy surveillance submarine returning to Victoria waters

HMCS Corner Brook one of first submarines to receive new communications systems

Victoria police officers used less-lethal weapons to arrest a woman Sunday night after she allegedly attacked a man with a hammer. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria police use less-lethal weapons on woman following hammer attack

Greater Victoria Emergency Response Team called to barricade situation

(Black Press Media file photo)
COVID-19 exposure closes Oak Bay pub, restaurant

Penny Farthing, Vis-a-Vis expected to reopen Wednesday after deep clean

Thriving Toots Wilderness School is trying to buy a 98-acre plot of undeveloped land from the Boys and Girls’ Club of Greater Victoria in Metchosin. (Contributed/Thriving Roots)
Hopeful buyers of Boys and Girls’ Club land in Metchosin would keep it wild

Nature-based school, partners trying to secure financing to buy 98-acre property: school director

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Highway notices like this come down effective June 14. Public health restrictions on non-essential travel and commercial operation have hit local businesses in every corner of B.C. (B.C. government)
Province-wide travel back on in B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan

Gathering changes include up to 50 people for outdoor events

Calgary Stampeders’ Jerome Messam leaps over a tackle during second half CFL western semifinal football action in Calgary, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
CFL football will be played this summer in Canada

Governors vote unanimously in favour to start the ‘21 campaign on Aug. 5

Citizenship Minister Marco Mendicino holds a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020. The federal government is announcing that Indigenous people can now apply to reclaim their names on passports and other government documents. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous people can now reclaim traditional names on their passports and other ID

Announcement applies to all individuals of First Nations, Inuit and Métis background

Harvesting hay in the Fraser Valley. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
COVID-19: B.C. waives farm income requirement for a second year

Property owners don’t need minimum income for 2022 taxes

Cruise ship passengers arrive at Juneau, Alaska in 2018. Cruise lines have begun booking passengers for trips from Seattle to Alaska as early as this July, bypassing B.C. ports that are not allowed to have visitors until March 2022 under a Canadian COVID-19 restrictions. (Michael Penn/Juneau Empire)
B.C. doesn’t depend on U.S. law to attract cruise ships, Horgan says

Provinces to get update next week on Canada’s border closure

This undated photo provided by Girl Scouts of New Mexico Trails shows a scout donating cookies to firefighters in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, as part of the Hometown Heroes program. As the coronavirus pandemic wore into the spring selling season, many Girl Scout troops nixed their traditional cookie booths for safety reasons. That resulted in millions of boxes of unsold cookies. (Girl Scouts of New Mexico Trails via AP)
Thinner Mints: Girl Scouts have millions of unsold cookies

Since majority of cookies are sold in-person, pandemic made the shortfall expected

In this artist’s sketch, Nathaniel Veltman makes a video court appearance in London, Ont., on June 10, 2021 as Justice of the Peace Robert Seneshen (top left) and lawyer Alayna Jay look on. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Alexandra Newbould
Terror charges laid against London attack suspect

Crown says Nathaniel Veltman’s four counts of first-degree murder constitute an act of terrorism

Premier John Horgan speaks as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, right, and health minister Adrian Dix look on during a press conference to update on the province's fall pandemic preparedness plan during a press conference from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to provide details on Step 2 of COVID reopening plan Monday

Step 2 could allow for larger gatherings and a resumption of recreational travel

Most Read